By RON DEUTER
NORWAY - Unbeaten Mid-Peninsula Conference frontrunner Negaunee proved too elusive for Norway Saturday afternoon at Ronberg Field, as the Miners spoiled homecoming with a 42-13 victory.
Burt Angeli/The Daily News Photo
Norway’s John Grayvold, Jr. (83) picks off a pass while teammate Austin Grayvold (12) and Negaunee’s Brock Weaver look on in Saturday’s Mid-Peninsula Conference football game with Negaunee.
"They are a good football team," Knights coach Bob Madigan said. "They are well coached well. We were a little under-matched, this is a tough conference we're in, but the kids did the best they could do and played a clean game."
Negaunee jumped out to a 22-0 lead in the second quarter, but left the door open just a bit for the Knights before the break. A fumble was recovered by Norway's Riley Johnson on one series, and John Grayvold, Jr. - playing in his first game of the season - intercepted a pass on another.
But in both instances, the Miner defense held and Norway came up empty.
A 53-yard option run for a score by Tyler LaJoie on Negaunee's first play from scrimmage in the second half made it 28-0. And after holding Norway three and out, Negaunee's Dustin Goupille followed a 49-yard LaJoie rush with a eight-yard score.
"The defensive scheme was actually pretty decent," Madigan said. "We were there a lot of times, almost every time we had a kid there. We just couldn't tackle them. We were outmanned.
"They're a little bigger, stronger and faster, and we just couldn't match up with them."
The Miners (6-0, 4-0), clinching an automatic playoff berth with the win, totaled 367 on the ground.
"I'm proud of these guys," Negaunee coach Paul Jacobson said. "We beat a good Norway team today, there's no question about it.
"The team comes before everything else, and clinching playoffs was a team goal. We played together as a team today for a team victory, and I'm proud of these guys."
LaJoie, who ran for 131 yards on just five carries, scored his first touchdown on a 20-yard wide receiver screen pass from Tanner Uren on the right sideline. LaJoie added a 20-yarder late in the second half.
Goupille, gaining 92 yards on 13 trips, scored the game's first touchdown from four yards out, and later added a 8-yard scamper.
Zane Radloff collected a 30-yard fade pass from Uren for the final score of the first half.
Norway scored both its touchdowns after Negaunee opened a 36-0 lead. Jorden Neumann, who ran for 51 yards in 10 trips, scored from 14 yards away late in the third quarter. Jake Pedrotti, who led Norway receivers with four grabs for 66 yards, put the game's final points on the board with a 15-yard run in the fourth.
Isaac Bray finished 9-of-13 passing for 126 yards while rushing for another 62 on five carries.
"I'm proud of the kids," Madigan said. "They worked hard here. Yeah 42-13, but if you went as hard as you can and did everything you possibly could, there's nothing to be embarrassed about. Sometimes you just fight a better guy. That's all there is to it."
Negaunee, which amassed nearly 400 yards in total offense, saw its defense record four sacks. Goupille led the way there with one solo and one assisted. Tony Zampese assisted on two sacks, as the Miners subtracted 40 yards from the Knights' offensive total with the quarterback takedowns.
"It was just a team effort, and that's what I like about these guys," Jacobson said. "They are not selfish. They play the game together and they enjoy playing the game."
Negaunee's win sets up showdown for command of the Mid-Peninsula Conference as Ishpeming visits the Miners Friday night in a battle of unbeaten squads.
Norway (2-4, 0-3) plays at Westwood Friday.
Negaunee 8 14 14 6 - 42
Norway 0 0 6 7 - 13
NEG - Dustin Goupille 4 run (Tanner Uren run), 3:17.
NEG - Tyler LaJoie 20 pass from Uren (LaJoie run), 9:22.
NEG - Zane Radloff 30 pass from Uren (run failed), 6:07.
NEG - LaJoie 53 run (pass failed), 11:42.
NEG - Goupille 8 run (LaJoie run), 7:48.
NOR - Jorden Neumann 14 run (kick failed), 1:26.
NEG - LaJoie 20 run (kick failed), 11:12.
NOR - Jake Pedrotti 15 run (William Bourg kick), 7:38.
Total yards - Negaunee 396 (327 run, 69 pass); Norway 217 (91 rush, 126 pass).
Rushing leaders - NEG: LaJoie 5-131, Goupille 13-92, Austin Caya 5-39, Uren 3-36; NOR - Isaac Bray 5-62, Neumann 10-51.
Receiving leaders - NEG: Radloff 1-30, Adam Francis 1-14, LaJoie 1-14; NOR: Pedrotti 4-66, John Grayvold Jr. 3-35.
Passing - NEG: Uren 4-7-69-2-1; Bray 9-13-126-0-0, Riley Johnson 0-2-0-0-0.
Interceptions - NOR: Grayvold, Jr.
Sacks - NEG: 4-40 (Goupille 1.5, Tony Zampese 1, Jamie Collins 1, Nolan Bergstrom 0.5)
Penalties - NEG: 5-75; NOR: 3-30.